A brief history of baccarat

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The popularity of Casino table games is dominated by the trifecta of poker, blackjack and roulette.  Yet these are not the only games on offer, and certainly were not the most popular in days gone by. Baccarat is one much-loved title that is vastly popular in parts of Southeast Asia but does not get the love it deserves in the West. Available at most online casinos, we give the history of this fascinating card game.  

Early origins

The exact history of baccarat is unknown. However, today’s modern game has its genesis in several card games played in the ancient world. The closest to its modern rules come from ancient China and a game named Pai Gow. This was popular and around 960 years BC. Translated, it is the term Make Nine which is the best result in baccarat. As it was played with tiles similar to playing cards the similarities are obvious.  

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The rules more like the ones available today were said to have originated around the 1400s in Italy. These are the rules you tend to play when you find your favorite casino games online and join a baccarat table. Today, there are a few variations, and you can play in several different ways, from traditional tables to live dealer games. Online casinos also allow you access to large bonuses so you can play using the house’s funds for a short period.  

This old Italian game itself evolved from a legend the Romans would tell about a goddess. She was given a nine-sided die. On a roll lower than a six, she would be banished to the sea. On a six or seven she was allowed to live a normal life. The roll of an eight or nine would see her become a goddess. While the modern game is less dramatic, the parallels are obvious.  

Modern rules of baccarat

The rules of baccarat have evolved over the years and with modern online casinos always thinking of new rules to attract players, they will probably evolve again. Yet the core game remains the same wherever in the world you may play it.  

Each card has a value. The royal court cards have a value of zero and an ace is worth one. Everything else carries its numerical value. The player is dealt two cards and an optional third. They aim to get as close to nine as possible and beat the banker’s hand. When the combined value goes beyond nine, then it returns to zero. For example, a seven and an eight would not be a value of 15. Instead, it would reset and have a value of five.  

Other players around the table can wager on the outcome before this begins. They either place their money on a player win, a banker win, or a tie. Bet on the player and see them win to double your bet. A banker win will see the player get 95% of their wager. A tie will pay out at 8 to 1.  

There are a few other rules you should keep in mind. If the player or banker is dealt an eight or nine, both have to stand. When a player’s total is five or less, they will be given another card. When a player stands, the banker must also hit on any total of five or below.  

Variations of baccarat

The most common variation of baccarat is the French version known as Chemin de Fer or Baccara a un tableau.

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This was the name adopted when the game arrived from Italy. It differs in the way the banking duties are handled. The banker is paid by all players and he only plays against the player to his right.  

Another popular version is known as Punto Banco. This is popular in many South American countries and the Caribbean, specifically the island of Cuba. In this version, players do not play against each other and the bank is held by the house. Players then have the option to bet against the bank winning or not. Whoever bets the highest amount is dealt the cards, but they play for all players at the table.  

All of these have evolved through time and place, but a good reference to see how the game has developed in the modern age comes from a guidebook written in a book by Richard Seymour in 1897. This was extremely similar, though the players could challenge the banker head-on by uttering the words Banco. This would then see them face off against the banker with no other players involved.  

Baccarat is a welcome change from the major card games. In Asia, it is the game of choice for many casino goers. While it may have lost out to poker in the West, it is still a very enjoyable game, easy to learn and can be a great way to relax and have fun. Find an online casino that suits you and try a few hands. You may just find your new favourite casino game.


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